A sense of deja vu must have been felt, since the TOI previously has opened the New Year with initiatives such as India Poised (Lead India) and Teach India. This year, it is Aman Ki Asha, described as an Indo-Pak peace project.
The campaign for this initiative has been conceived by TOI's creative agency Taproot India. Lodestar Universal is the media agency.
Speaking about the objective behind the campaign, Rahul Kansal, chief marketing officer, The Times of India said, "Overall, as a brand we've come to realise that newspapers have confined themselves in narrow boxes for too long, through passive reporting. Hence, the need to take a leadership position to fill that vacuum. The Times of India has already made a headstart through city-specific campaigns which highlight local issues and we've got a terrific response through the India Poised and Teach India campaigns. Aman Ki Asha is a campaign that hopes to strengthen ties between India and Pakistan on a people-to-people basis."
The Jang Group in Pakistan will play a pivotal role in the campaign on the other side of the border. Discussions between TOI and The Jang Group began a year back, wherein the Jang Group had initiated contact with the CII to hold a trade meet. "We both realised that there was an opportunity to scale it up in a big way. Aman Ki Asha was initially planned to launch it on the 15th of August, but we decided to unveil it on 1st January, since it is a time for fresh beginnings."
Besides TV, print and outdoor campaigns, Aman Ki Asha will also bring together businessmen and industrialists from both countries under one platform, starting with a trade meet in Karachi in February. "We intend to involve senior leaders from the both the governments of both countries as well. But at its heart, it is a people-to-people campaign. The meet should encourage stronger economic development in both countries through collaboration amongst its business community," Kansal said.
A TVC featuring Amitabh Bachchan also broke on TV channels on 1st January.
Watch TVC here
Santosh Padhi, co-founder and chief creative officer, Taproot India says, "The objective of the campaign is to reduce people-to-people hatred on both sides. There is little doubt that at the end of the day, everyone desires peace. The difference is the means. One school of thought says that confrontation, conflict and subjugation is the answer. Another is through friendship, deeper understanding and mutual respect. Since the former has really got us nowhere, this is an attempt at the latter."
Padhi said, 'Aman ki asha' was a name chosen after several interactions and brainstorms by teams on both sides of the border. "It just seemed to have a comfortable ring to it," he says.
A second TVC has also gone on air. Shot in an arid landscape close to Jaipur, it shows people across both sides of the border in a game of dumb-charades. A representative from Pakistan is standing close to the border and making gestures that describe the name of a film, while his counterparts in India are seen interpreting his signs through a binocular. In no time, the Indians manage to guess the name of the popular film. Thrilled, they spread the word that All India Radio be called up and the song request from the film be played on air. A jubilant dance follows across both sides of the border as soon as that song goes on air.
Watch the TVC here
The film is directed by Vinil Mathew and the producer is Swadha Kulkarni of Footcandles Films. The lyrics have been written by Gulzar. The track has been composed by Shankar Mahadevan who also sang the song along with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
Project: Aman ki Asha
Client: Benett Coleman and Co. Ltd (BCCL)
Creative agency: Taproot India
National creative directors: Agnello Dias, Santosh Padhi
Copywriter: Agnello Dias, Chintan Ruparel
Art director: Santosh Padhi, Abhishek Sawant
Account planning: Agnello Dias, Manan Mehta
Client servicing: Manan Mehta, Kaushal Dhokker
Production house: Footcandles Films
Director (of the film): Vinil Mathew
Post-production studio: Famous Studios
Media used: TV, print, outdoor, on-ground
Media agency: Lodestar Universal